American Water mourns loss of former CEO

VOORHEES, NJ, Oct. 12, 2009 -- American Water Works Company Inc. announced that former President and CEO James V. LaFrankie passed away on October 8, 2009...

VOORHEES, NJ, Oct. 12, 2009 -- American Water Works Company Inc., the largest investor-owned U.S. water and wastewater utility company, announced today that former President and CEO James V. LaFrankie has died. Born on March 26, 1927, LaFrankie passed away on October 8, 2009.

Originally from Elizabeth, Pa., La Frankie spent his entire 44-year career with American Water, and served as its chief executive from 1984 through 1991. A lasting legacy of La Frankie's tenure as CEO was the decision to create uniformity and consistency by renaming American Water's subsidiaries to incorporate each state's name (i.e., Alexandria Virginia Water Company became Virginia American Water). The company's headquarters in Voorhees, N.J. was also built under his leadership in 1987, bringing together all employees from the parent company and American Water Service Company for the first time. La Frankie is also credited with forwarding the idea of transparency in the water industry, and promoting the idea of educating customers about the services provided by the company and their value.

LaFrankie, who earned his college degree by attending Georgetown University three nights a week for five years straight while working for the company in Virginia, was an advocate for education and lifelong learning before the term was in common use. He encouraged employees of all levels to continually improve their skills and obtain a formal education. During his leadership, he instituted the American Water's research and development program, which today is one of the nation's preeminent water research programs. He also spearheaded the company's training and development program, which included staff management training and development, as well as industry-specific training programs for staff at American Water facilities throughout the country.

He retired from his position as CEO in March 1991 and resigned from the board of directors, on which he also served, in May 1992. Upon his retirement, the board established the James V. LaFrankie Scholarship Awards in his honor, to be distributed annually nationwide to college-bound children of full-time American Water employees.

During his career, he was a trustee of the International Water Supply Association and served in many capacities in the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), including chair of NAWC from 1982 through 1986. He received several awards and honors -- including the Abel Wolman Award of Excellence from AWWA -- and a company building in his hometown is named in his honor -- the James V. LaFrankie Operations Center Pennsylvania American Water in Elizabeth, Pa.

Founded in 1886, American Water is the largest investor-owned U.S. water and wastewater utility company. With headquarters in Voorhees, N.J., the company employs more than 7,000 dedicated professionals who provide drinking water, wastewater and other related services to approximately 15 million people in 32 states and Ontario, Canada. More information can be found by visiting


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